Meet Caroline Beldham
I’m the Community Marketing Manager for Explore which means that I’m involved in supporting our centres to build relationships within their local communities. This can be anything from holding a literacy workshop at a local library to designing a creative writing competition for children across the UK to enter. One of my favourite projects is our National Young Mathematicians’ Awards, a national maths competition we run in partnership with NRICH at the University of Cambridge. It is a fantastic event which sees bright young mathematicians battling it out to be crowned Young Mathematicians of the Year. It is very inspiring to see such motivated children aspiring to be the very best they can be in what they love.
Hearing about Explore Learning was bitter sweet for me, it was during my final year at university when everyone was applying for jobs and going to lots of interviews. I saw my friend Jess after one of her interviews and asked her how it had gone, she said it was great, she had made it through to the assessment day but unfortunately after that she didn’t get offered the job. She said the feedback she got was really helpful and would certainly help her with future interviews, she then paused and said “You’d love the company. You should definitely apply!” I looked it up and immediately loved it. I was so set on wanting to work for Explore that I put off applying for ages because I was so nervous. I finally plucked up the courage and 4 years later I am still enjoying it as much as I did on my first day.
The main thing that I instantly loved about Explore was the variety, the instant responsibility you’re given and the clear career progression. I’ve always loved working with children but didn’t wanted to become a teacher, I also never wanted to work in an office, when I was younger people always asked “What do you want to be when you are older?” I’d always reply “I don’t want to work in an office”-so essentially this job was my childhood dream. When I went for my centre interview the vibe and the atmosphere was truly infectious. The children were coming up to me and asking if I was ‘new’ and the staff that interviewed my felt as if we could have been friends for years. I have never walked into such a friendly, welcoming environment. Anyone who is thinking of applying needs only to visit a centre to see if it is somewhere where they want to work.
I applied to Explore Learning in the May of my final year and was offered the job a few weeks later. That was something that stood out to me about Explore compared to other companies, how quick and dedicated the recruitment team were, ome of my friends had been waiting weeks, even months to hear back from companies. If this was a reflection of the company as a whole then I definitely wanted to work for them! I graduated on Friday and by the Monday I had moved to a new county and started my career. From day one I was learning things I had never done before and I loved it, all of it! – from the financial management of the centre down to running workshops in local schools, from holding parent consultations to face-to-face marketing in the local shopping centre. 15 months later I was back to Guildford for my second assessment day, this time to become a Centre Director. I was thrilled to find out I had been approved and started my next step of my Explore Learning journey in Farnham in January 2014. The thing I loved about being a Centre Director was the people development, it was fantastic to be able to see my direct impact on new tutors and Assistant Directors starting in my team. My time as a Centre Director was a bit of a whirlwind and just a year later I started in Head Office as a Marketing Manager.
I always do think “what next” because I’m someone who wants to constantly learn and strive for the next thing, but then I always think “why would I ever leave?” I love the ethos of Explore, I love the people I work with, I love that every day I smile and I have never woken up on a Monday morning and thought “ugh, work today” what more could I ask for? I suppose the next step for me would be to become a Head of Department but after rushing through my time as a Centre Director I am going to enjoy my time as Community Marketing Manager. My job is so fluid and I am constantly taking on new projects, I have the freedom to be creative and make the job my own. Of course I have my manager there to make sure I am on the right track, and if my projects don’t get the return I have pledged, I have that to answer to because I’ve always enjoyed working slightly under pressure I’ll just need to keep on setting myself ambitious targets.
Even though day to day I don’t work with the families and children anymore, my work does directly impact them and that is such a wonderful reward. Our rule in the marketing team is that if it doesn’t make you smile then it is not right. The biggest smile I had recently was being able to call the parents of Gracie Harding, our National Young Writer of 2016. Lauren Child, author of Charlie and Lola, judged her entry as the top story out of 10,5000 other entries. That was an amazing phone call to make to let them know the news and to tell them that they had also won a family holiday to Disneyland Paris.